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Summer Fun: Scavenger Hunts

Submitted by kidspeak on Fri, 07/09/2010 - 07:38.

Scavenger hunts are a great way to keep your child engaged while having fun! Here are a few ideas to help your child participate within scavenger hunts while working on increasing their language skills and social skills.

If your child is non-verbal, here are a few ideas:

Prepare: Make a picture list of a few items that you can find in your backyard like a rock, sticks, leaves, grass, etc. We suggest that you use picture symbols to create your list. Here are a few resources you can use: clip art on your computer or http://www.childrenwithspecialneeds.com/downloads/picturesymbols.html. Next you will want to have a “where” picture symbol.

Scavenger Hunt #1: When you start your scavenger hunt, start by showing your child the “where” picture symbol, the picture of the first object and then sing “Where is a rock? Where is a rock?” (to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”). Next point to the object and say “Look. Look a rock.” Then place the rock in a basket or baggie. Then move on to the next object. Within your first scavenger hunt, continue this routine for each object.

Scavenger Hunt #2: You will want to start this scavenger hunt the same way as Scavenger Hunt #1. But when you are on your second object, begin to sing the song and allow your child to start to look. If they need more help, take them to the next object, point to it and pause. The goal here is for your child to: point to the object, say the word and/or pick up the object and place it in the basket or baggie. If your child doesn’t respond, continue helping them by modeling the correct behavior/language as you did in Scavenger Hunt #1.

Change it up: Once your child starts to respond more to this activit,y then it is time to move it to other places such as: while you are taking walks (e.g., tree, cloud, bird, squirrel, dog, etc.).

How to make this social: Once your child begins to point more to objects within the backyard as well as on walks, then it is time to make this harder by adding a social component. A great way to make this activity social is to add another child within the activity. Looking for the same objects in the same area without getting upset is a huge social step!

If your child is using one to two-word utterances, here are a few ideas:

Prepare: Make a picture list of a few items that you can find in your backyard like a rock, sticks, leaves, grass, etc. We suggest that you use picture symbols to create your list. Here are a few resources you can use: clip art on your computer or http://www.childrenwithspecialneeds.com/downloads/picturesymbols.html. Next you will want to have a “where” picture symbol and a “look” picture symbol.

Scavenger Hunt #1: When you start your scavenger hunt, start by showing your child the “where” picture symbol, the picture of the first object and then sing “Where is a rock? Where is a rock?” (to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”). Next point to the object and say “Look. Look a rock.” Then place the rock in a basket or baggie. Then move on to the next object. Within your first scavenger hunt, continue this routine for each object.

Scavenger Hunt #2: You will want to start this scavenger hunt the same way as Scavenger Hunt #1. But when you are on the second object, begin to sing the song and allow your child to start to look. If they need more help, take them to the next object, point to it and pause. The goal here is for your child to: point to the object, say “look” or “look + object” and place it in the basket or baggie. If your child doesn’t, respond continue helping them by modeling the correct behavior/language as you did in Scavenger Hunt #1.

Change it up: Once your child begins to respond more to this activity, then it is time to move it to other places such as: while you are taking walks (e.g., tree, cloud, bird, squirrel, dog, etc.). With the bigger objects that you can’t place in a baggie you can: check it off your list or take a picture of the object.

How to make this social: Once your child begins to point and say “Look a bird,” then it is time to make this goal even harder by adding some social components. Here are three ways to make this social:
1) Go on a walk while riding in a wagon together and together work on the scavenger hunt list
2) Work on taking turns looking for the objects “Amy’s turn” and “Laura’s turn”
3) Each child participates within the same scavenger hunt on their own and then afterwards work on “look a + object” or “look I found a + object”.

If your child is using three or more words and is working on increasing their social skills here are a few ideas:

Prepare: Make a picture list of the items you will be looking for on your hunt. Here are a few ideas on how to make your list:
1) Picture symbols you can use: clip art on your computer or http://www.childrenwithspecialneeds.com/downloads/picturesymbols.html
2) Draw out a picture or
3) Clip them out of magazines

You can even involve your child in this process:
1) Have them draw or color the pictures or
2) Have them cut them out of a magazine

Scavenger Hunt: When you go on your scavenger hunt have them
1) Check off what they find
2) Cross off what they find
3) Place their item in a bag
4) Take a picture of what they find. You can find a great durable camera on http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2620&e=cameralanding
5) Have them match the pictures when they find them (you can match the color with a black and white picture) and/or
6) Have them play BINGO and place a sticky note near the picture or color the pictures when they find the item. You can make your own BINGO cards at www.dltk-kids.com.

Change it up: Once your child begins to comment more within this activity, then it is time to change it up by: changing locations (e.g., park, aquarium, etc.) or changing what you are looking for. For instance, instead of nouns start looking for: actions, colors, people, items that start with “B”, etc.

How to make this social: Here are a few ways to make this social:
1) Go on a walk while riding in a wagon together and together work on the scavenger hunt list
2) Work on taking turns looking for the objects “Amy’s turn” and “Laura’s turn” and 3) Each child participates within the same scavenger hunt on their own and then afterwards work on “look a + object” or “look I found a + object”.

If your child is working on higher level social skills here are a few ideas:

Prepare: You want to do the same preparation as before, but now you want your child and their friend(s) to plan it together:
1) They can take turns looking for certain pictures and cutting them out of magazines
2) They can take turns drawing or coloring the objects they are looking for
3) They can make their own list by themselves and then trade.

Scavenger Hunt: When you go on your scavenger hunt have them
1) Check off what they find
2) Cross off what they find
3) Place their item in a bag
4) Take a picture of what they find. You can find a great durable camera on http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2620&e=cameralanding
5) Have them match the pictures when they find them (you can match the color with a black and white picture) and/or
6) Have them play BINGO and place a sticky note near the picture or color the pictures when they find the item. You can make your own BINGO cards at www.dltk-kids.com.

Change it up: Once your child begins to comment more within this activity, then it is time to change it up by: changing locations (e.g., park, aquarium, etc.) or changing what you are looking. For instance, instead of nouns start looking for: actions, colors, people, items that start with “A”, items that Daddy likes, items that scare Mommy, items that make ME happy, etc.

Other great places to participate within scavenger hunts:
1) Zoo: Looking for specific animals.
a. You can create a picture list: with picture symbols, by cutting them out of magazines, surfing the web, etc.
b. Then you can check them off by: physically checking them off, playing BINGO (placing a sticky note on them), taking a picture of them with your camera, drawing a picture of them in a notebook, writing a sentence about them, using the names of each animal to complete a mad-lib and much more.
c. EXTRA: If you use the camera to check them off your list then you can use those pictures for your next scavenger hunt or to make a book about the animals you saw at the zoo (talk about the past).

2) Park: Looking for specific actions (e.g, swinging, sliding, running, etc.).
a. You can create a picture list: with picture symbols, by cutting them out of a magazine, surfing the web, taking pictures of your child doing the action, etc.
b. Then you can check them off your list by: by checking them off your list, having your child ask to join them (e.g., Can I play with you? or Can I swing with you?) and much more!
c. EXTRA: If you decide to collect the items you find, then you can make a collage out of the items you find. Your child can have their own collage OR they can do one with a peer or as a family. Next you can work on showing other people.

3) Aquarium: Looking for specific animals, colors, etc.
a. You can create a picture list: with picture symbols, by cutting them out of magazines, surfing the web, use pictures from past visits to the aquarium, etc.
b. Then you can check them off by: physically checking them off, playing BINGO (placing a sticky note on them or color them), taking a picture of them with your camera, drawing a picture of them in a notebook, writing a sentence about them, using the names of each animal to complete a mad-lib and much more.
c. EXTRA: As you drive home, play the guessing game by taking turns describing animals that you saw and guessing what the other is describing.

4) Grocery Store: Looking for specific foods (this a great way to make grocery shopping fun):
a. You can create a picture list: with picture symbols, cutting out of magazines/grocery ads, clipart, coloring, drawing pictures, etc.
b. Then you can check them off by: placing them in your basket, checking/crossing them off your list, etc.
c. EXTRA: You can also make this a little harder and work on describing the food item when you find it “Apple: it’s a red fruit!”.

HERE ARE A FEW FUN WEBSITES THAT YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL WHEN PLANNING YOUR SCAVENGER HUNT ADVENTURE:
http://www.scavengerhuntsforkids.com/
http://faculty.usiouxfalls.edu/arpeterson/scavenger_hunts.htm
http://www.creativekidsathome.com/games/scavenger_hunt.shtml
www.dltk-kids.com

We hope that you enjoy a fun summer filled with great scavenger hunt adventures!

~Amanda & Laura
KidSpeak, LLC
www.kidspeakdallas.com